Posts Tagged 'Anointing'

Panic Podcast – Thessalonians, Part 6

On this Thanksgiving Eve, thanks for stopping by and spending some time with me in God’s Word.  We’ll be looking at 1 Thessalonians 2 and talking about things like the anointing, conditions for revival, and a whole bunch of other things.  Grab those Bibles and click away.

To my American brethren, I hope you all have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving tomorrow.

 

James, Part 5

Simon Legree

Simon Legree

King Solomon, who knew a thing or two about wealth, wrote this:

The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it.  (Proverbs 10:22  NIV)

We know this is true because it was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and since we believe in the verbal plenary inspiration of Scripture, that verse not only conveys God’s thoughts on the matter, but also the words He would have used had He written personally.  John Milton wrote something about wealth, too.  What he wrote isn’t inspired, but it’s noteworthy:

There is nothing that makes men rich and strong but that which they carry inside of them.  Wealth is of the  heart, not of the hand.

Riches may be a blessing of the Lord, but wealth without the Lord’s blessing is always accompanied by trouble in the form of jealousy, misery, oppression, theft, murder, abuse, and even fear.  A believer may start out with love for God and neighbor, but that love can become love for wealth and money when that believer takes his eyes off God and begins to pursue the things of the world.  When possessing wealth and money becomes more important that possessing God, a believer becomes a friend of the world and an enemy of God.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.  (1 Timothy 6:10  NIV)  

Pursue justice

Wealthy church members need not be offended because James 5:1 – 6 is directed at wealth unbelievers; Christians are not the targets of James’ admonitions.  That comes later on the chapter.

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you.  (James 5:1  NIV)

Wealthy people, by the way, are never condemned anywhere in the Bible simply because they are wealthy.  Rather, God always warns against the temptations to which the wealthy are especially prone.  Wealth without God’s blessing, as noted previously, causes problems.  That’s why even the Apocrypha says this:

Lose your money to a brother and a friend, and let it not rust hidden beneath a stone.  (Sirach 29:10)  

James has in mind unbelievers who are in the habit of  hoarding their riches.  Here’s a good example of the power and influence of the Word of God.  It’s teachings are for everybody, believer or not.  James will deal with wealthy believer in a few verses, but here’s his warning to the non-Christian –

Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.  Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.  (James 4:2, 3  NIV)

Unsaved people already live lives that are empty, unsatisfied, and often full of misery and fear, but wealth that is hoarded piles on even more problems.  Wealth takes many forms, but James teaches all forms of wealth, if hoarded, will rot, will get eaten up, and corrode over time.  His more famous half-brother taught the same thing, a few years earlier –

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  (Matthew 6:19 – 21  NIV)

Nothing in this world is permanent, as much as we may wish otherwise.  When wealth is not used for positive things, like helping other people, it testifies against the person who possesses it.  In other words, that wealth will most certainly harm the possessor, or at the very least, that hoarded wealth won’t do the poor schlub any good at all.

Christians shouldn’t live like that; ungodly people do, but Christians shouldn’t.  Our attitude toward wealth and earthly possessions should be based on the notion that not a single possession is permanent; they are all like the waves of the sea – they come and go.  How foolish is it to build your destiny on the instability and impermanence of earthly riches?  Instead, believers ought to receive God’s blessings with gratitude but then use them wisely, for the glory of God and the benefit of others.  Why is this benevolence and philanthropy so important?  It’s because when we take note of the needs of others and do what we can to help them out, we are reflecting God’s generosity toward us.

But remember, James is addressing unbelievers, and pretty despicable ones at that.  They were guilty of treating other people very shabbily.

Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.  (James 6:4  NIV)

James is addressing certain wealthy people, not all of them.  These verses shouldn’t be read with a universal application.  Not all wealthy people and business owners are like this; most of them are not.  God always hears the cries of the oppressed.  He heard the Israelites in Egypt and when any person or people are oppressed or caused to suffer anywhere in the world, God hears them.  He is the great equalizer.  The wealthy who hoard their wealth thus causing others to suffer will themselves be the recipients of suffering caused their attitude toward what they possess.  That’s the Biblical “law of reciprocity” at work.  A person reaps what they sow.  A lot of people are familiar with that so-called law even if they don’t know it’s in the Bible.  But here it is in its full context –

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.  Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.  (Galatians 6:7 – 10  NIV)

It’s pretty clear.  When God blesses people, they are to bless others.  This is especially true of Christians.

The last beef James has against these wealthy unbelievers relates to something he wrote back in chapter 2 –

Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?  (James 2:6  NIV)

And here James fleshes out what he wrote above –

You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.  (James 5:6  NIV)

It’s not Jesus James is referring to, although you might find some Bible scholars who think that.  Apparently James is addressing a particular incident that happened.  Some wealthy unbelievers had literally dragged at least one innocent righteous man into court and had him executed for no reason.

Rarely does a New Testament writer turn his attention to anybody outside the church, but here James is fullbore accusing these men of a crime.

Be patient

Knowing what we know now, we can easily understand why James encouraged his readers earlier on in his letter.  They were facing persecution – all kinds of persecution including that from these wealthy unbelievers.  The persecution was bad enough, but it seemed to the Christians that these non-Christians were prospering in spite of what they were doing.  That’s a seeming inequity believers in God have long wondered about.

For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.  They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong.  (Psalm 73:3, 4  NIV)

Believers need to be careful what thoughts they allow to remain in their heads!  If you’re not careful and you dwell on the unfairness of it all, you’ll slip into sin.  Patience is what’s needed.

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming.  (James 5:7  NIV)

This sounds like a cliché, but it really is the very best way to approach the situation of persecution and suffering, and for two very good reasons.  First, when the Lord returns in glory, the ungodly will be judged.  They will finally get theirs and all their wealth and prestige will be for nothing.  And second, when the Lord returns believers will be completely vindicated in every way.

If we truly believe this, then our attitude should reflect it.

Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!  (James 5:9  NIV)

More good advice from James!   We ought to be careful what attitudes we harbor because those attitudes will dictate our actions.  The Lord who is returning is also the Judge.  That should govern what we think and how we behave.  Lee Strobel comments –

Acrid bitterness inevitably seeps into the lives of people who harbor grudges and suppress anger, and bitterness is always a poison.  It keeps your pain alive instead of letting you deal with it and get beyond it.  Bitterness sentences you to relive the hurt over and over.

Respect the Lord’s Name!

All of a sudden, James takes a sharp turn:

Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.  (James 5:12  NIV)

A lot of Christians like to take this verse and apply it globally.  That is, some see this as a complete prohibition of all oath-taking.  That’s not what James is getting at here.  “Above all” is a phrase the NIV uses to tie the admonition of verse 12 to what he’s been dealing with.  In spite of all the persecution, Christians need to be patient because the Lord is coming back and He will make everything right.  Christians should take care to treat all people, rich or poor, equitably.  Christians should keep it simple:  just say “yes” or “no” and stop misusing the Lord’s good Name.  The Christian should be honest in his attitudes, honest in his actions, and honest in his speech.  Using the Lord’s Name to buttress questionable attitudes must never happen.  D.A. Carson made a shrewd observation –

No oath is necessary for the truthful person.

Learn to depend on God

Here’s more good advice for these persecuted Christians who were trying to gain the favor of the wealthy people who were persecuting them:  Depend of God!  Instead of wasting time and effort currying the favor of people harming them; instead of misusing God’s name, these Christians needed to learn how to depend on God through praying properly.

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray.  Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.  (James 5:13  NIV)

Don’t complain, don’t grumble, don’t seek to mollify those mean, nasty rich  people!  Pray about it!  Turn to God and depend on Him.  And if you’re happily living without persecution for the moment, thank God for it.  In other words, God should always be first on the mind of believers no matter what the circumstance.

Included in circumstances one should depend on God is sickness.  James gives Christians the template for dealing with that circumstance –

Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.  (James 5:14  NIV)

That’s more good advice from James, an elder himself.  If a Christian is sick, he should call for guys like himself – elders from the church – to come and pray for them and anoint them with oil.  By adding the phrase, “in the name of the Lord,” James is simply saying that both acts need to be done in faith believing that God’s will concerning the sick person will be done.

A word about the word “anoint.”  The Greek word James used, aleipsantes, is not – NOT –  sacramental or sacred anointing, but rather a word that simply means to “smear.”  James is not advising a religious use of oil here.  For example, when we want to fix a leaky door, we don’t “anoint” the hinge with oil, we “oil” it.  That’s what James is getting at.  In the first century of the Church, oil was used by sick people like sick people today use aspirin.  If you were sick during James’ day, you would apply some oil to your hurting body.  Today we take two aspirins and call the doctor in the morning.  What James is getting at here is powerful common sense.  When you are sick (in any age), trust God and call your pastor or an elder to come and pray for you.  But take an aspirin, too. Do both things trusting the Lord will bring about His will for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

LESSONS FROM A BROKEN HEART

Luke 7:36—50

 

The real power of this passage is derived from a verse taken from the previous paragraph:

The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’   (verse 34)

 

This criticism of Jesus does not stop Him from continuing to show concern for sinners.  In verse 30, Luke had drawn our attention to the self-righteous Pharisees, and so now beginning with verse 36, the skillful chronicler of Jesus’ life and ministry weaves the perfect example of both:  Pharisee and sinner.

Long before the times of Jesus, there existed a group of honorable men known as “separatists.”  They were radical in their time for they sought to preserve the holiness and essential tenets of Judaism at a time when the Jewish faith was becoming more and more secular.  The “separatists” were an honorable group, without whose efforts and dedication the Jewish faith would have disappeared from Israel all together.

However, by the era of the New Testament, the “separatists,” or the Pharisees as they had come be known, were dominated by legalism, ritualism and blind formality.   The Pharisees had come to make holiness a matter of rules and regulations than of the spirit.  The very men who should have been championing the cause of Jesus were His greatest enemies.

As our story begins, a Pharisee named Simon had invited Jesus over this his house for supper.  There is a bit of irony here that may be intentional.  They, the Pharisees, had just accused Jesus of “slumming” with disreputable characters, yet the very next moment, He is eating with a Pharisee!

1.  Tearful anointing, verses 36—38

 

This story is seen only here in the Gospels.  It is not dissimilar to the account of Jesus’ eating with Simon the leper (see Matthew 26:6—13; Mark 14:3—9; John 12:1—9), but while there may be similarities, this episode stands alone.

We don’t have a timeframe for the events of this account, but it seems to have taken place early in Jesus’ ministry.

When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.

We are filled with questions regarding this dinner invitation.  Though at this early stage of our Lord’s work the Pharisees were increasingly wary of Him, they had not yet severed all ties with Him.  So why did Simon invite this radical rabbi to dine with him in the first place?  He may have been filled with questions like Nicodemus was before him.   Simon had heard all these stories about Jesus being a “prophet,” so maybe he wanted to see firsthand if the stories were true.  Or maybe Simon’s motives were little darker; perhaps he wanted to have an opportunity to find a basis for charging Jesus with some sort of bogus charge.

We might also be curious as to why Jesus would accept such an invitation.  Everything Jesus did, every person He spoke to, and every place He went during His ministry years were not happenstance or coincidental.  His words, His journeys, and His encounters with people were all carefully calculated to show who He was and why He was there.  Accepting this dinner invitation would have put the kibosh on any accusation that Jesus avoided Pharisees socially or that He was as wary of them as they were of Him.

Beyond his name and station in life, we know nothing about this Pharisee.

A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume.

In New Testament parlance, this woman could have been a prostitute.  The phrase “sinful life” carried with it far more shameful connotations that it does today.  Of course, she may not have been a prostitute; this is merely an assumption Bible scholars make.  Her designation as “a sinner” (literal) would have been how the Pharisees saw her, not Luke.  However, we notice a remarkable thing.  Whatever she had once been she was no longer.  She came to Jesus already a changed woman.  It is reasonable to assume that Jesus ministered to and converted many more people than we have accounts for in the Gospels!  She must have heard the words of Jesus on previous occasions and she must have experienced pardon for her “sinful life.”  How else can we explain why she came to Jesus while He was dining and came carrying a jar of perfume?

Was coming to a dinner uninvited an unusual occurrence?  Was this woman a “party crasher?”  In fact, this woman took advantage of the accepted social custom of the day to come and be with Jesus.  At that time, those who were truly needy were permitted to visit such a banquet so they could be given the leftovers.  However, while that may explain why she was allowed to be there, Luke makes it clear that she did not come to receive anything from the Pharisee, but rather to give something to Jesus.

She carried with her an “alabaster jar of perfume.”  Alabaster is a type of gypsum, very fine and usually white in color.  This particular jar was probably quite beautiful, though not nearly as hard as, say, marble.  Alabaster jars or boxes of this type were generally used to hold expensive perfume.

[A]nd as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

It was customary to recline at a table across a couch in the Palestine of Jesus’ day.  His feet would have been extended in the opposite direction from the table, making it easy for this woman to come and stand them.  She came to anoint His feet with her perfume.  It may have been more common to anoint them with water or maybe olive oil, but she apparently wanted to give her best to Jesus, probably out of gratitude for what He had done for her.  Overcome with emotion, though, she had begun to cry and it was her tears that covered His feet.  Only heart completely freed from sin could have reacted so.  The anointing with perfume would have been a profound act in and of itself, but anointing Jesus with a part of herself was in indication that her whole being was dedicated to Him.

With His feet soaked in what Martin Luther referred to as “heart water,” this woman impulsively did what no woman ought to have done in public:  she loosened her hair and let fall free.  Having nothing else to wipe off her tears with, she used all that she had:  her hair.  And at the same time, her tears mingled with perfume, already dripping from the broken alabaster jar.

2.  Put in his place, verses 39—43

 

This whole display was unbelievably shameful to Simon the Pharisee.  What this woman did had greatly offended his sense of what was proper and acceptable behavior.  But what offended him more was the fact that Jesus did nothing to stop her!

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

 

This verse is amusing.  While Simon was musing to himself about the limitations of Jesus’ prophetic insight (he assumed Jesus was unaware that this woman was a sinner), Jesus was reading Simon’s mind and forming the correct conclusion about his character!

In fact, in the exchange that follows, Jesus zeroes in on and exposes Simon’s faulty thinking.

  • Jesus demonstrates that He does know this woman extremely well.  He knows her past history and her present condition.
  • Jesus, in what must have been an eye-opening fashion, showed that He knew exactly what was in Simon’s mind.
  • This showed that Jesus was precisely what Simon was told He was:  a prophet.  In fact, Jesus proved that He was much more than that; He was One who could look inside a person’s mind and heart and discern their inne- most thoughts and intents.
  • This whole episode showed that Jesus Christ was nothing less than divine; One sent from God who had the authority to forgive sins and the power to change lives.

When our Lord told Simon, “Simon, I have something to tell you,” Simon could not have imagined what was coming!  He probably expected some interesting words of wisdom from Jesus, who Himself had proven to be an interesting, if not somewhat radical teacher.

Jesus told Simon a parable about two people that were in debt—something most of us can relate to.  The parable is simplicity itself:

“Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

When Simon says, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled,” he is not only sure of his answer, but he also knows where Jesus is heading with the story.   He is condemned by his own words.

But Jesus is kind; He knew that the Pharisee “got it,” and so as if to take Simon off the hot seat, Jesus calls his attention back to the woman at His feet.  However, in doing so, Simon would be made to shamed.

Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”

In essence, the Lord is telling Simon that he did not exercise even the most common of courtesies when Jesus came in to his home.  In other words, Simon may have been a respected religious teacher, but he had no manners!

Had Simon acted as he ought to have, HE, not the woman, would have washed Jesus’ feet as the owner of the home and host of the dinner should have.  HE, not the woman, should have greeted Jesus with a kiss.  And Simon, not the woman, should have anointed Christ’s head, at the very least with the cheapest olive oil he could find; yet he did not.  Every one of those actions was the custom of the day when one had callers, and Simon, to his shame, ignored custom when it came to Jesus.  Jesus, the Son of God, apparently was not worth the trouble.  Simon proved to everybody, as Jesus so adroitly pointed out in front of everybody, that he was thoughtless and virtually loveless.  Simon showed himself for what he was:  cold and patronizing.

In all three instances, Simon treated Jesus exactly opposite to the way he should have treated our Lord.  And in all three instances, this poor, lowly woman with no social standing treated Jesus above and beyond the call of custom:

  • Instead of washing Jesus’ feet with water, the woman used her tears, which indicated repentance and sorrow.
  • Instead of greeting Jesus with a kiss on His cheek, she kissed Him fervently all over His feet, which indicated humble gratitude.
  • Instead of anointing Jesus’ head with cheap and plentiful olive oil, she poured precious and personal perfume on His feet.

She went way, way beyond what was expected.  But then, why wouldn’t she?  After all, she loved Jesus with all of her heart.  He deserved no less than all she had to give.

3.  Application

 

The story ends with what the woman already knew:  she stood forgiven in God’s presence.  Nobody could have done what she did if she had not already experienced the forgiveness of her sins.

What Jesus did and said is remarkable on so many levels.  Simon was the man who regarded himself as a righteous lover of Jehovah and less sinful than others, and he considered this woman as an unforgiven sinner with no standing in society or before Jehovah.  Jesus, though, taught that it was Simon who stood unforgiven before God because of his obvious lack of love in how he treated the Son of God.

The woman’s treatment of Jesus showed two things:  (1) the great love she had for Him, and (2) a sense that she had been forgiven and her life radically changed by Jesus.  What she did, she did out of gratitude and appreciation.

Simon’s treatment of Jesus showed two things:  (1) he had no love for God for he had no knowledge of who Jesus really was, and (2) because Jesus was not part of his “circle,” he treated the Lord with contempt and dishonor.

Of Simon’s behavior, we might remark that it was to be expected.  Why would an unrepentant sinner go out of his way to make the Son of God welcome in his home?  But at the same time, we who claim to love Jesus and who have experienced His grace and mercy, must constantly be aware of how WE treat our Lord.  Sometimes, I fear, we who ought to treat Jesus as the forgiven woman did, treat Jesus worse than Simon did.  Many of us have the bad habit of giving Jesus our leftovers:  our leftover time, our leftover attention, and our leftover love.  Surely the Man who gave all for us deserves a little more than just our leftovers.

(c)  2010 WitzEnd

GOD’S ANOINTED: The Boy Who Would Be King

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1 Samuel 16

The people of Israel wanted a King and they chose, in concert with God, a man by the name of Saul.  Even though Saul was technically Israel’s first monarch, it is accurate to say that because of his continued disobedience to the Word of the Lord, his rule was aborted and with the rapid rise of David, a true and lasting monarchy was finally established.  While Saul’s ascension to the throne was a complex combination of both Divine sovereignty and human desire, the choice of David was God’s alone.

Saul’s decline was long.  However, the fact that he would have no dynasty became apparent early in his reign.  Yet God continued to allow Saul to rule over Israel.  Of course, it is folly to attempt to discern God’s reasons for doing things when His Word is silent, but we may speculate, and our speculations involve all the parties involved in Saul’s kingship.  Clearly God knew that Saul would be a complete failure, but Saul needed to know the price of his disobedience.  Samuel also needed to know the truth about Saul, for Samuel genuinely loved him.  The people who chose Saul needed to see the results of his rebellion and the results of their choice.  So for those reasons, it seems to me, God allowed Saul to linger on and on as a king.

With chapter 16, the subject of the book changes and we now see David in stark contrast to Saul; we continue to see Saul’s decline and David’s rise, and there are many lessons to be learned, not the least of which would be taught by our Lord many centuries later, for Saul’s biggest problem is man’s biggest problem—

But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  (Matthew 7:26)

Saul was building his house on the sands of his own imagination and ambition.  If he had only been obedient to the Word of the Lord and tried to do God’s will instead of his own, how different things would have worked out for King Saul.  Man’s wisdom, no matter how clever he considers himself, will always be foolishness to God.

1.  God’s choice, verse 1

The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”

It is not known how soon the events of this first verse began after those of the concluding verse of the previous chapter, but the Lord’s words to His prophet Samuel, “How long” seem to be a kind of rebuke to him.  One can only imagine how deep and intense Samuel’s grief over Saul must have been.  But God’s will and His work is ever pressing forward, and now was the time for Samuel pick himself up and look forward, leaving the past behind.  “What might have been” would never be, so the prophet was encouraged to look to the future, in which God’s plans would come to pass.

There is a singular lesson here:  the will of God and our relationship with Him is far more valuable and important than anything else or anyone else in our lives.  As dear as the wants or supposed needs of our family and friends may be, if we deem ourselves followers of Christ, then what He wants must always take precedence.   Those special relationships in our lives are important, but putting them ahead of Christ reveals what you think of Christ and the cost of such an action may be expensive.

What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?  (Matthew 16:25—27)

The fact is, while Samuel was busy looking back, God had already been looking ahead and had prepared someone to take Saul’s place.  God’s statement to Samuel is interesting.  He tells the prophet:  “I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”  Literally the phrase means “I saw…for myself a king.”  It is true that “saw” here is related to “choose,” yet the phrase gives us a glimpse into the mind of the Lord:  He sees what we cannot.  Before David became king, God saw him as king.  Also of note is the first contrast between the choice of Saul and the choice of David.  Read carefully these two verses—

Of Saul, the Lord said:  And the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. (8:22, KJV)

Of David, the Lord said:  “I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”  (16:1, NIV)

Clearly, Saul was really the people’s choice, but David was the Lord’s.

David was being prepared, or groomed, to be God’s king over Israel by doing a most remarkable, if unimpressive thing:  he was faithfully tending and defending his father’s sheep—

But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock,  I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.  Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. (17:34—36)

God frequently chooses the foolish things of this world, but He never chooses lazy things!  Nobody looking at David could see him as a king, but the Lord could.  David had two things going for him:  He was chosen by God and God saw the potential that lay deep within David because David was already a faithful son and worker.  Do you think for one moment it was David’s desire to be a shepherd for his whole life?  Of course not!  We have the benefit of knowing how David thought and lived and we can read a tremendous body of work that revealed a passionate, ambitious man.

It is fine to be ambitious, but what God wants are servants who will seek to do His will, not seek a promotion.  That is what He found in David.  When God looks at us, He sees the real person.  God knows our strengths and weaknesses.  God knows what we are capable of doing.  We should never be afraid that our “gifts” or “talents” or “wisdom” will go unused.   God knew that Paul would become the greatest missionary and preacher that ever lived, but it 12 years of living in obscurity before Paul would begin the work to which he was called.

2.  Samuel’s commission, verses 2, 3

The LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’  Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”

The Lord’s choice of Saul’s successor would be found among the eight sons of a man named Jesse, who lived in Bethlehem.  Jesse was the grandson of Boaz and Ruth.  You will recall that Ruth was not a Jew, but a Moabitess.  It is interesting that the mother of Boaz was also not Jew; her name was Rahab of Jericho.  David, like our Lord, has an interesting lineage!

Naturally, Samuel was concerned that Saul would seek vengeance, so the Lord arranges a clever cover for him.  When Samuel arrives in town, the townsfolk were afraid.  It seems that Samuel, as a reward for keeping the Word the Lord, became fearful and invoked fear in others!  In reality, circumstances were grim in those days, thanks to Saul’s state of mind.  It’s amazing how a country’s leader can change the whole mood of the citizenry.  Equally amazing is the authority a person has when they are a mission from God.

At any rate, what should be noted is the preciseness of the Lord’s directions to Samuel.  David, the son of Jesse, was God’s chosen one, and so God Himself will dictate how David will achieve what God has called Him to.  David may have had an earthly father, but his relationship with God took precedence over that, or any other earthly relationship; Samuel may have had his own good ideas about how to approach Jesse and how to choose the right candidate, but God’s idea about how to get the job done took precedence over any good ideas Samuel might have had.

God told Samuel to fill his horn with oil so as to anoint David as king.  It would take a while before Saul’s monarchy would whimper to a close, but the moment David’s head was covered with the anointing oil, he was, in God’s estimation, Israel’s king; he didn’t look like, and he may not have felt like it, but David was the king.  It took a long time for David to physically claim the throne, but that did not negate God’s will for David.

We tend to be very impatient even with God, but remember these words and remember them well—

[H]e who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 1:6b)

Samuel went to Bethlehem in God’s name, with God’s message, doing it God’s way.  That is real authority; for the man of God, true authority descends from heaven and is received through the Word of God.

3.  Looking for the king, verse 11

So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered, “but he is tending the sheep.”   Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”

This verse always makes me chuckle.  Jesse had paraded all his sons past Samuel, but the Lord was not taken in with good looks.  How one looks and the charm they may possess means nothing to God.  It is with the heart man believes, so the Lord looks a man’s heart—

[T]he LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  (verse 7)

There are so me tremendous principles for Christians to latch on to throughout 1 Samuel.  Remember back in chapter 15, we read this—

“Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD ?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”  (15:22)

Christians demonstrate their love for God, not by the may feel or by what theysay in their testimonies, but by whether or not they are obeying Him.  The Christian life is not a collection of Utopian ideologies, it is  seen in how we live.  When God looks at those who claim to love Him, he looks at the heart.  We are terrible at that; most of us are taken by a smooth talker, a clever turn of words or pleasing appearance.  But none of that has any effect on God because God is the original inside Man:  He sees us from the inside out.

2 Corinthians 10:18 says—

For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

It is not what we think of ourselves, or what others think of us,  it is what God thinks of us that matters.  David, the young shepherd boy, the least of Jesse’s sons, was the very last one they thought of but he was God’s choice.  In man’s estimation, intelligence and appearance are of great weight, but when it comes to God’s scales, a humble, hard working heart is what tips them.

4.  The anointing, verse 13

So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power. Samuel then went to Ramah.

In choosing David it is interesting that while “God looks at the heart,” the Scripture has this to say about David’s appearance—

He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features.  (verse 12)

Is this a contradiction?  Of course not; David was not only the “youngest,” the Hebrew word also means “smallest,” meaning that in terms of stature, David was a short man.  David was not a particularly impressive man, but he was no gargoyle, either.  In fact, David was probably just an average man.

Some scholars have pointed out a clever, but obscure bit of symbolism.  Consider this:  when we are first introduced to Saul, we see him looking for his father’s donkeys, but when we first meet David, he is tending his father’s sheep.  In the ancient world, it was common to refer to Kings as shepherds and their citizens as sheep.   Saul was no shepherd and he did not treat his people like sheep!  On the other hand, David would forever be known as “the shepherd king.”

When Samuel anointed David with the oil, symbolic of the Holy Spirit, we are told—

From that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power.

This is the very first time David is mentioned by name in the books of Samuel, and his brothers bore witness that he was anointed both by man and by God.  From time to time throughout the Old Testament, we are told that the Spirit of God came upon Godly men at times, temporarily, for specific purposes; however, David is the only man who, before Pentecost, experienced the permanent presence of the Holy Spirit in his life.   This one event changed David’s life and represented the triumph of Samuel’s long career.  The last sentence of verse 13 indicated that Samuel’s work in the nation was all but over, and although we read about him once in a while later on, he no longer plays an active role in his books.

The power of the Holy Spirit in David’s life, and in the life all believers for that matter, cannot be overstated.  Every life that is dedicated and consecrated to Christ is a life lived in the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  It is true that we have the gifts of the Spirit today and that at special times we may experience a special “unction” of the Spirit, but every believer may experience what David experienced.  God does not expect us to live our lives bereft of His presence, and He has given us His Holy Spirit to make living a life that is pleasing to Him possible.

What is particularly interesting about David’s relationship with God is this profound verse found chapter 13; fully three chapters before the events of this present chapter—

But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command.” (13:14)

David was a “man after God’s own heart” long before he was publicly chosen and anointed.  Long before God revealed His heart to Samuel and Jesse and to the people of Israel, His mind was made up about David because David was a “man after His own heart.”   How did God know this about David?  God knew because He and He alone is able to see into man’s heart, and even though for the present David was mere shepherd, God knew that inside David beat the heart of a king.  And even though years later when David sinned and experienced terrible setbacks, and the future looked bleak indeed,  God never forsook His king because David’s heart never changed.  God sees what we cannot.

(c)  2009 WitzEnd

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